The last international friendly was without the trappings of a game with the #3 team in the world as a stop on the journey to the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
All of that went out the window a month ago with a loss to Trinidad & Tobago in the USA’s final game in the Hexagonal qualifiers. The loss to the last place team, dropped the U.S. to next to last in the regional standings, out of the World Cup to the dismay of a lot of Americans.
There were calls to fire the coach, force members of the MNT into retirement, and to oust US Soccer President Sunil Gulati.
Bruce Arena did resign as coach, and most of the players who were on the roster for the final Hex games, were left off the roster for Portugal, the final game of the year. As far as Gulati. who holds the reins of soccer power in the United States, he can’t be fired/ He is an elected US Soccer official.
Gulati’s position will be up for election next February. He has not officially said if he would stand for re-election, nor has he said that he will not.
The Nov 14 friendly was played in Leiria, Portugal, and veteran U.S. MNT assistant Dave Sarachan, who was named the caretaker coach for this game, called in a young group, with a smattering of young veterans.
The MNT’s young prospects put in encouraging performances with 19-year-old midfielder Weston McKennie’s goal highlighting the talent in the team as the United States finished 2017 with a 10-2-7 record.
Starting in his first MNT appearance, McKennie gave the U.S. the lead in the 21st minute with a well-placed shot inside the near post, becoming the third-youngest U.S. player in the modern era to score in his first cap.
Midfielder Tyler Adams and center back Cameron Carter-Vickers join McKennie in making their debuts for the senior National Team.
In a back-and-forth opening 15 minutes, both sides held possession but couldn’t create any real threats. That changed soon after, as the USA strung together a series of dangerous runs before McKennie’s strike (aided by a CJ Sapong pass) gave the U.S. a 1-0 lead.
Portugal equalized in the 31st minute on a fortunate shot that slipped under U.S. goalkeeper Ethan Horvath, through his legs and into the goal. The teams traded opportunities for the remaining hour to leave the contest a 1-1 draw. The USA’s all-time record against Portugal remains dead even at 2-2-3.
Portugal also played a group of young players, and the U.S. could have gotten the win were it not for the goalkeeper error. What Sarachan showed us was the future of the U.S. MNT. Certainly there were lost opportunities by not going to Russia, but perhaps there also will be opportunities.
The world did not end when the final whistle blew against T&T, so now we have five years to get ready for the next one. Time to reload and time to get it right this time.
The U.S. players will watch the 2018 games on TV, but so will Italy and so will the Netherlands. They failed to advance as well.
The MNT will return to action in 2018 when the team hosts Boznia and Herzegovina for a friendly match on Jan. 28 at StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m. PT, and the match with be broadcast on FS1, UniMas and UDN.
Goal Scoring Rundown:
USA – Weston McKennie (C.J. Sapong), 21st minute: Making a run down the left sideline, C.J. Sapong played the ball past two defenders inside to McKennie, streaking towards the net. He maneuvered past one more Portuguese defender, took a few steps to settle the ball and cleverly wrong-footed the ‘keeper to slot him at the near post. USA 1, POR 0 [
POR – Antunes (Bruno Fernandes), 31st minute: Building up beginning with the ‘keeper, Portugal was methodical in the final third, patiently making moves before sending a long cross from the right to the left side. Upon receiving the booming pass, Antunes volleyed a shot towards the goal from outside the box, where it slipped through the hands of U.S. goalkeeper Ethan Horvath. USA 1, POR 1 FINAL
- Weston McKennie scored his first goal in his first cap. At 19-years-old, he becomes the third-youngest U.S. player to achieve that feat in the modern era, behind Juan Agudelo and Landon Donovan.
- CJ Sapong picked up his first assist in his third international appearance.
- A total of three U.S. players earned their first cap. Midfielders Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie both got the start, while Cameron Carter-Vickers made his debut from the bench when he entered at halftime.
- Adams (18 years, 273 days) becomes the first player born in 1999 to appear for the MNT and is the second youngest to earn a cap in 2017 after Christian Pulisic (18 years, 187 days on March 24, 2017 vs. Honduras).
- The MNT started two teenagers (Adams, Mckennie) for the first time since 1988, a span of 29 years.
- Ten players who took the field for the U.S. tonight were age 24 or younger: (24) Juan Agudelo, John Brooks, DeAndre Yedlin; (22) Kellyn Acosta, Ethan Horvath, Matt Miazga; (21) Lynden Gooch; (19) Cameron Carter-Vickers, Weston McKennie; (18) Tyler Adams.
- Seven of the USA’s starting XI are products of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy: Adams, Agudelo and Miazga (New York Red Bulls), Acosta and McKennie (FC Dallas), Horvath (Real Colorado), Yedlin (Seattle Sounders FC).
- Veteran Danny Williams captained the side for the first time tonight and earned his first MNT appearance since a 1-1 draw with New Zealand on Oct. 11, 2016.
- Starting at right back, DeAndre Yedlin will finish 2017 one cap shy of the half-century mark.
- Partnering with fellow FC Dallas product McKennie in central midfield, Kellyn Acosta led all players in the starting XI by making his 13th appearance of 2017.
- The centerback partnership of Miazga and Carter-Vickers in the second half was a reprisal of the duo’s role at the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup.
- Following a series of injuries, John Brooks returned to the U.S. lineup for the first time since June 8, 2017.
- Acosta, Miazga, Sapong, Horvath, Adams and McKennie all made their first MNT appearances on European soil.
- Since first meeting in 1978, the USA and Portugal are an even 2-2-3 all-time.
- The MNT is 0-2-2 all-time against A Seleçao on Portuguese soil.
- The U.S. finished 2017 with a record of 10-2-7.
– U.S. Men’s National Team Match Report –
Match: U.S. Men’s National Team vs. Portugal
Date: Nov. 14, 2017
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: Estádio Dr. Magalhães Pessoa; Leiria, Portugal
Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET (8:30 p.m. local)
Weather: 45 degrees; partly cloudy
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F USA 1 0 1
POR 1 0 1
USA – Weston McKennie (CJ Sapong) 21st minute
POR – Vitorino Antunes (Bruno Fernandes) 31
USA: 1-Ethan Horvath (12-Bill Hamid, 46); 2-DeAndre Yedlin, 3-Matt Miazga, 6-John Brooks (16-Cameron Carter-Vickers, 46), 15-Eric Lichaj (21-Jorge Villafaña, 59); 19-Danny Williams; 4-Tyler Adams, 8-Weston McKennie (11-Alejandro Bedoya, 84), 23-Kellyn Acosta, 17-Juan Agudelo (20-Lynden Gooch, 59); 18-CJ Sapong (14-Dom Dwyer, 77)
Subs not used: 22-Jesse Gonzalez, 5-Tim Ream, 7-Kelyn Rowe Head coach: Dave Sarachan
POR: 22-António Pimparel; 2-Nelson Semedo, 3-Pepe (4-Luis Neto, 10), 24-Ricardo Ferreira, 5-Vitorino Antunes; 8-Bruno Fernandes (10-João Eduardo, 46), 13-Danilo Pereira (6-Ruben Neves, 62); 14-Manuel Fernandes, 17-Bruma (11-Bernardo Silva, 62), 18-Gelson Martins (19-Gonçalo Paciência, 46); 7-Gonçalo Guedes (16-Marcos Lopes, 81)
Subs not used: 1-José Sá, 9-André Silva, 12-Anthony Lopes, 15-Idgar Ié, 20-Kevin Rodrigues, 21-Ricardo Pereira, 23-João Cancelo Head coach: Fernando Santos
Stats Summary: USA / POR
Shots: 9 / 13
Shots on Goal: 5 / 6
Saves: 5 / 4
Corner Kicks: 4 / 8
Fouls: 20 / 18
Offside: 0 / 1
Referee: Anthony Taylor (ENG)
Assistant Referee 1: Gary Beswick (ENG)
Assistant Referee 2: Stuart Burt (ENG)
4th Official: Andre Marriner (ENG)
ussoccer.com Man of the Match: Weston McKennie